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Seeds, rocket ships, the Space Station and the Red Planet... Planting the seeds of science with students!

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Monday, November 10, 2003

Ottawa, Nov. 10, 2003 /CNW/ - Mauril Bélanger, MP for Ottawa-Vanier, on behalf of Allan Rock, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency today announced before a group of 200 Ottawa-area students that half a million Heinz tomato seeds will be launched to the International Space Station onboard a Russian rocket in early 2004 as part of the Tomatosphere Project.

The Tomatosphere Project uses Space to teach students to think critically, and to help them to explore science concepts in way that will allow them to enjoy and embrace science learning. A national educational outreach program, the Tomatosphere Project is designed to challenge students to uncover clues about growing food in space through scientific experiments.

"This project opens young minds to the idea that they can be a contributing part of 'science', 'exploration', 'innovation' and 'discovery'. It epitomizes the value of collaborations between public, private organizations and the academic community to bring innovative and inspiring learning opportunities to the youth of this country," said Mauril Bélanger, MP.

Long-term space missions to Mars will use plants to provide a source of food, water, oxygen and a way to consume the carbon dioxide produced by the crewmembers. Data collected from the student experiments will help achieve a better understanding about the effects of space travel on seed germination.

The announcement was followed by a presentation from CSA Astronaut Dr. Bob Thirsk and Dr. Mike Dixon from the University of Guelph, who spoke about life support requirements for manned missions to Mars and the importance of plants in manned planetary exploration.

To register for the 2004 edition of the Tomatosphere project visit www.tomatosphere.org

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